Uber Driver Claims He Was Fired All for Not Letting Unmasked Customers Ride

A former Uber driver from Portland, Maine says he was fired by the ride-sharing company for denying rides to passengers who wouldn't wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the company said he violated community guidelines.

Danny Darling, the former driver, said that he originally asked the riders to wear a mask, but was met with hostility. "In the beginning, I would ask them, I would plead with them. I would stay there and plead with them," Darling told local outlet WCSH. "I would get the middle finger, I would get my car kicked, I would get my car punched, I would be called so many names. One guy even spit on me. Spit on me in the middle of a pandemic!"

Uber has begun requiring both riders and drivers to wear masks. In a May 13 blog post, the company wrote that riders and drivers can cite "Not wearing a mask" as a reason for reporting a driver or cancelling a ride. Drivers and delivery people are also asked if they have sanitized their cars or delivery materials, before going online. The riders are asked to confirm that they are also wearing a mask and have washed their hands. Uber said that people who don't wear masks and repeatedly violate the rule would be removed from the platform.

Darling said that he would click "not wearing a mask" as the reason for denying the trips. The driver said that even though riders would click that they were wearing a mask, they would still walk up to his vehicle without one on. According to WCSH, the riders filed complaints against Darling, with some claiming that he was being unsafe. Uber gave "unsafe practices" and "problematic behavior" as the reasons that Darling was fired.

Uber said that darling was fired for "reports of verbal behavior" violating community guidelines, which led to his removal and that his termination "had nothing to do with refusing riders to wear a mask."

In a Facebook post prior to WCSH's coverage, Darling shared that he had been fired and called people out for not wearing them. "You non wearing Mask [sic] users who pound your chest and claim your rights are being violated have reported me to Uber on enough occasions with Lies and False [sic] accusations to the point Uber listened and I no longer have a Career [sic]," he wrote. People who Never even got in my Vehicle Lied and Got me Released from my Service Contract [sic]." He also shared a GoFundMe that had been launched to support him after being fired.

Danny Darling did not respond to Newsweek's request for comment via direct message in time for publication.

In an effort to keep riders and drivers safe, Uber has launched the "No Mask. No Ride" campaign. Additionally, the company released guidelines to remind riders to be safe over the Fourth of July weekend when riding with Uber, reminding them to sit in the backseat, wear masks, wash their hands, and more.

A protestor wears a face mask and gloves as Uber and Lyft drivers with Rideshare Drivers United and the
 Transport Workers Union of America conduct a ‘caravan protest’ outside the California Labor Commissioner’s office amidst the coronavirus pandemic on April 16, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. A Maine Uber driver claimed he was fired from the platform for denying riders who did not wear masks, but the company said that he was terminated following a series of reports about inappropriate behavior. Mario Tama/Getty